- And this cannot be any more relevant than is the case now in Tanzania, with the unravelling of the story behind the nomination as Special Seat MPs of the 19 former Chadema women wing leaders.
Dar es Salaam. Former United Kingdom Prime Minister James Harold Wilson is a famous politician who coined the phrase-“A week is a long time in politics,” a popular quote that has over the years remained relevant in politics the world over.
Harold, who died in 1995, is regarded one of the prominent UK politicians and keeps the record of a premier who won more general elections than any of his peers in the 20th century.
Records show that he contested five general elections and won four of them in 1964, 1966, February 1974 and October 1974. His experience obviously reflected the now popular quote which continue to define the lives of politicians as they compete for power and influence.
And this cannot be any more relevant than is the case now in Tanzania, with the unravelling of the story behind the nomination as Special Seat MPs of the 19 former Chadema women wing leaders.
For the main opposition party, Chadema, It has been a political roller-coaster week, recording monumental development in only a span of four days! It started on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, with the surprise swearing in, in Dodoma, of 19 Chadema women leaders as Special Seat MPs against all odds and ended on Friday with their expulsion from the party.
These developments have not only astounded Chadema’s general membership or followership, but also left a bewildered political landscape in the country going over the roof with anticipation.
Like a house of cards, the now expected back and forth banter among the involved parties will take political center stage in the following weeks, if not months, as the fate of the 19 expelled officials unfolds further.
No word has been heard yet from the 19 MPs led by their former Bawacha chairlady Halima Mdee since the Friday ejection from the party whose leadership branded them ‘traitors and saboteurs.”
Questions now abound what is likely to follow, and what form would the future of these once powerful opposition luminaries who had set the political trend among local women take.
Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe announced on Friday the party’s Central Committee had not only stripped the 19 of their membership but banned them from assuming any responsibilities on behalf of the party.
Chadema would also challenge their nomination as MPs in court, while the party’s women machinery signaled yesterday it was moving fast to bury the “ghosts that come with their betrayal.” The knives are out and to paraphrase Mr Harold; the next days and weeks will be long ones coming.
Mr Mbowe who emotionally disassociated his name from any decision to have the 19 take an oath as MPs, returned the ball in the court of Mdee and company who had insinuated that they had the party’s blessings. It would be interesting to note how their stripping of Chadema membership also sits with fact that the 19 may want to cling to their parliamentary seats and privileges.
According to the law, a political party’s sponsorship is a requirement to qualify as MP. Political analysts point out that with hindsight, the 19 are likely to contest their positions and hope to enjoy the protection of the political establishment that has already backed them, even if illegally.
The former long serving National Assembly Speaker Pius Msekwa told The Citizen sister newspaper Mwananchi that all the 19 MPs lost the Special Seats status the moment the decision to strip off their membership was announced.
He said the country’s constitution says parliamentarians lose their status immediately when their membership ends, noting that Chadema was required to start the nomination of other people who would hold the 19 positions (The party has however rejected the elections outcome and does not recognise the positions).
“This is why by-elections are called the moment people defect to other political parties or the moment membership in certain political parties ends,” he said.
Mr Msekwa’s scenario worked when eight CUF members aligned to the then secretary general Seif Sharif Hamad were stripped off membership and immediately Prof Ibrahim Lipumba who was heading a faction of the same party asked to pick up replacements.
But, Speaker Job Ndugai (He was re-elected) shielded four former Chadema MPs namely Wilfred Lwakatare (Bukoba Urban); Antony Komu (Moshi Rural); David Silinde (Momba) and Joseph Selasini (Rombo) who were removed from the party for defying directives on Covid-19.
Similarly, Ndanda MP Cecil Mwambe who defected to CCM, therefore losing party sponsorship early this year, was recalled to participate in the parliamentary budget session by Mr Ndugai despite the legal provisions.
Whether the 19 sacked members will continue serving as parliamentarians on speaker’s backing remains to be seen.
Political analyst Buberwa Kaiza suggested Ms Mdee and Co. follow the party’s route provided by the constitution by either seeking forgiveness and or challenge the decision to expel them.
“They are expected to continue doing politics because of their age but I am also not sure if they are prepared to go for other business outside politics (Out of Chadema),” he said. “They won’t be the first to do so because some of the most celebrated politicians like Bibi Titi Mohamed committed similar offenses but they were forgiven and became heroes.”
However, he observed that what was going on could have been planted by Chadema rivals, though he said a false approach would render such a mission unsuccessful.
He was seconded by Ruaha Catholic University (Rucu) political science lecturer, Prof Gaudance Mpangala, who said failure to appear before the party’s CC indicated that nothing was happening as a result of bad luck.
“These people already have their options, not those hinted by their chairman, which is possible as long as the country’s political situation is concerned,” he said, calling their actions an arbitrary move to destabilize the opposition.
A political science lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Dr Richard Mbunda said Chadema will be negatively be affected if the sacked members will decide to defect especially to the ruling party.
“But, Chadema has taken an important decision to ensure the party’s positions are respected. Otherwise, the party would significantly lose its popularity and powers to command and mobilize the masses,” he said.
He was echoed by his UDSM counterpart, Dr George Kahangwa, who welcomed Mr Mbowe’s announcement that the matter would be investigated. “It’s the necessary to establish what really happened and whether the problem originated within or outside the party, especially due to controversy that surrounded the saga,” he said.
It is now up to the ex-Bawacha chairperson Halima Mdee, vice chairperson Hawa Mwaifunga, national secretary Grace Tendega, deputy secretary general Jesca Kishoa, ex-Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairperson Nagenjwa Kaboyoka and Chadema chairperson for Mtwara Region Tunza Malapo, Cecilia Pareso, Sophia Mwakagenda, Anatropia Theonest, Salome Makamba, Stella Fiao, Agnesta Kaiza, Hawa Mwaifunga, Felista Njau, Kunti Majala, Asia Mohamed, Conchesta Rwamulaza as well as ex-Bunda and Tarime Urban MPs Ester Bulaya and Esther Matiko respectively and the ex-youth with secretary genral Nusrat Hanje to take the next move.
By Louis Kolumbia @Collouis1999 [email protected]